Jeffrey Lurie sees the exact same things we see.
All of it.
He sees Stacy Andrews leave Philly with 9 million after starting two games. He sees Kevin Curtis leave Philly with 15.3 million after having one great game and a bunch of mediocre ones. He sees 4 million pickup Vince Young throwing the football to the other team pass after pass after pass.
He sees Jerome McDougle drafted instead of Troy Polamalu, Brandon Graham instead of Earl Thomas, Trevor Laws instead of Calais Campbell.
He sees Chris Clemons, Chris Gocong, Antwan Barnes, Joe Mays and Brodrick Bunkley -- non-factors here -- join other teams and immediately excel.
He sees the Eagles stick with players who clearly cant play, like Ernie Sims, Will James, L.J. Smith, Nick Cole and Reggie Brown. He sees guys regress, like Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Nate Allen and Stewart Bradley. He sees Day 1 draft picks making zero impact, like Daniel Teo-Nesheim, Victor Abiamiri and Bryan Smith.
He sees his head coach punting when he should go for it and going for it when he should punt. He sees the ill-fated Ronnie Brown option play, the rookie punter underthrowing an open receiver by 20 yards, the fourth-down goal-line pass to Brent Celek that had no chance to work.
He sees it all.
He sees the Juan Castillo disaster. The 1-8 record at home over the past 365 days. The blowout losses. The lack of discipline. The NFL-record five blown fourth-quarter leads. The penalties. The missed tackles. The bickering coaches on the sideline. The Fire Andy chants and banners. The three consecutive years since a postseason win. Rory Segrest. A fan base furious every time it has to watch legendary Brian Dawkins deliver a huge play for the Broncos while his replacements bumble their way through missed tackle after missed tackle.
Lurie is a smart man. Smart enough to turn his initial 185 million investment in 1994 into a franchise now worth 1.16 billion with a beautiful stadium and practice facility, a long season-ticket waiting list and massive merchandise sales.
He also sees Jon Gruden winning a Super Bowl in their first year, Mike Tomlin winning a Super Bowl in his second year, Sean Payton winning a Super Bowl in his fourth year.
And its impossible to escape this conclusion: If Lurie does indeed see everything we see, he will change coaches when the 2011 season ends.
Because the last thing Lurie wants is a city that can't stand his football team. The last thing he wants is a fan base that collectively harbors an incredible amount of bitterness, anger and frustration toward the Eagles. The last thing he wants is an overwhelmingly negative image associated with his franchise.
And thats exactly what hes stuck with right now.
The Eagles have had bad teams before. Plenty of them.
From 1962 through 1977, they had one winning season and no playoff appearances in a 16-year span. From 1982 through 1999, an 18-year span, they won just two playoff games and never made it past the wild-card round under six different coaches.
But theyve never had this. People whove grown up with this team, third-generation fans, arent just disappointed with the Eagles, theyre fed up. Theyre angry. Theyve had enough of this football team, theyve had enough of this coach, and theyve had enough of things just not changing.
They see the Eagles as a collection of overpaid, underachieving, whining, complaining divas with a sense of entitlement who wont hesitate to talk big but cant -- or wont -- back it up on the field.
By any measure, Reid is a successful NFL head coach. Only 13 coaches in NFL history have taken more teams to the playoffs. Only 11 coaches with at least 200 games have a higher winning percentage.
But this goes way beyond any of that. This goes right to the heart of how the Eagles are perceived in Philadelphia and why. And right now, the Eagles rank down there in popularity with SEPTA, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, roving PenDOT crews and Lew Blum Towing. Public sentiment is fiercely anti-Eagles right now. All because of Reid.
When the Eagles were routinely making deep playoff runs, Reids popularity was always relatively low, thanks in part to the three upset losses in NFC Championship Game and just as much because Reid simply couldn't -- or wouldn't -- connect with the fans who had invested so much into this team.
So whether or not Lurie is confident that Reid can coach the Eagles back into the NFL elite isnt the primary issue here, although it will certainly be a factor when Lurie decides whether to keep Reid or move on with a new head coach for the first time in 14 years.
Lurie is obsessed with his franchises image, as he should be. Wander around the NovaCare Complex. Theres a reason the picture frames in all the offices in the building -- no matter what floor you're on or what department you're in -- are precisely the same color. Theres a reason the grass out front by the entranceway is freshly cut every 48 hours. Theres a reason the hallways are lined with historical displays and photographs, like an Eagles museum.
A big part of the value of the Eagles is the value of that word Eagles, and all that it invokes.
He wants that word and its trademarks and logos to resonate positively whenever theyre spoken or seen. Right now, they resonate not just negatively but grotesquely.
Even their most loyal, devoted fans despise this team, and even Reids most ardent supporters concede that something is terribly wrong these days inside the soul of this football team.
Right now, the perception of the Eagles is at its lowest point since at least the mid-1980s, when they sputtered through six straight losing seasons. Maybe at its lowest point ever, since expectations were astronomically high this year.
Lurie can change all of that. He can change it in an instant. With one decision.
E-mail Reuben Frank at email@example.com